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Argo Group Expands Presence in Italy With Ariscom Buyout

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Argo Group International Holdings, Ltd. AGII has acquired Ariscom, a specialty insurer. The deal will help the company to expand in Italy.

Argo Group considers Italy to be one of Europe’s largest and best-performing property and insurance markets. Thus, penetrating into the market will enhance the operations of the underwriter of specialty insurance and reinsurance products. Also, the acquirer intends to leverage Ariscom’s existing broker and client network to add capabilities in Spain and Portugal, particularly.

Argo Group has been focusing on risk management, diversification and the strengthening underwriting and investment teams to ramp up growth profile. These have been helping the company accelerate its premium growth. Gross written premium increased 20% in 2017. Also Argo Group boasts better loss ratios compared to its peers. Expanding international exposure will further add to the upside.

Strategic acquisitions have helped the company grow its premiums.  Gross premium written improved 34% in 2017, primarily reflecting the acquisition of Ariel Re in February 2017. Apart from pursuing strategic acquisitions, the company has also been reviewing options to accelerate growth. While Argo Group identified organic growth opportunities in professional and surety lines, it is also restructuring businesses that failed to meet targeted  returns.

Argo Group is equally focused on digital initiatives to consolidate underwriting operations, connect to distribution partners digitally, explore emerging tech enabled categories, among others. Thus, the acquirer aims to leverage the company’s proven digital solutions to enhance value to its clients.  

Shares of Argo Group have gained 4.7% compared with the industry’s rally of 4.8%, year to date. Strategic endeavors will likely help the stock rebound in the near term.  Argo Group carries Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).  You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Insurers Following Suit

Chasing the inorganic growth route, ramping up one’s operational profile seems a well-accepted strategy adopted by insurers as acquisitions set a prominent trend in the insurance domain. Recently, AXA Group has inked an deal to buy XL Group Ltd XL for $15.3 billion in cash. Assured Guaranty US Holdings Inc., a subsidiary of Assured Guaranty Ltd. AGO, too followed suit by buying a minority stake in Cadia (Malta) Limited to invest in alternative investments. Further, Evergreen Parent will acquire 45% stake in AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. AFSI for $2.7 billion.

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